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How the cloud is driving transformation across the business world

You must identify user needs to develop a successful cloud strategy
You must identify user needs to develop a successful cloud strategy
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We spoke to Nick Hyner, Director of Cloud Services, Dell EMEA, about how the cloud will play a significant role in future business practices across a wide variety of industries, and where the development of cloud services is currently taking place.

TechRadar Pro: Who is driving the adoption of cloud within organisations?

Nick Hyner: There are a number of factors driving cloud adoption within organisations. One of the biggest drivers is the business need to deliver applications as part of core services over multiple platforms to the end customer. Another comes from marketing and digital teams wanting to analyse customer behaviour around the world, in order to establish what to sell to whom, and through which channels.

From an industry vertical perspective we are also seeing industries that monetise content such as media and music being forced by the changing market to embrace cloud as a central part of their business models, in order to remain competitive. Users expect to be able to access content anytime, anywhere, and cloud is the perfect enabler for this.

TRP: Which businesses have managed to use cloud to turn a profit and what were the success factors?

NH: I think the clearest examples would be social media, as well as internet-enabled businesses such as travel and insurance comparison or property information websites. Dell itself has used cloud successfully in a number of its services to end customers.

One example of that is Dell SecureWorks that monitors and analyses cyber-security events to provide cyber-security managed services to organisations and governments globally. When you look at the scale of these processes, we're talking about the analysis of over 60 billion internet cyber-related events a day so cloud and big data technologies are essential.

Success stems from identifying user needs to develop a cloud strategy, whilst having an overview of legal and operational elements in an implementation. If you have correctly assessed all of these factors, the next step is finding a cloud service or provider that aligns with your requirements, to help you turn a profit.

TRP: How will new cloud security legislation help or hinder the industry?

NH: Areas where cloud-specific security legislation will boost gains for the industry include increased certainty to customers. If there is a standard that can be reached that gives 'clearance' with regulators, then customers are more likely to adopt. The alternative is ambiguity which can frighten customers into inaction.

Another area is standardisation across regions. If better defined mandatory 'regulations' were introduced across a single region, such as the EU, this could help vendors achieve compliance and scale regionally (and perhaps globally) rather than having to address localised interpretations of 'directive' based legislation.

On the flipside if future regulations are either too regionally focused or prescriptive it may become a burden which will slow adoption. Furthermore, if fines for data breaches are increased it may mean that companies shy away from cloud innovation because of perceived risk.

TRP: What will be the biggest areas of investment in the cloud over the coming years?

NH: I think we will see significant investment in the following areas:

  • Large PaaS vendors – organisations like Microsoft, Google and Amazon will continue to invest huge amounts in their infrastructure and cloud portfolio.
  • Telecoms providers – these organisations will look to increase spending to try to offset declining margins in traditional and mobile businesses.
  • Financial markets – cloud is growing significantly in this market, and due to stringent industry practises, this is particularly driven by regulators both nationally and regionally.
  • Public sector cloud – this is especially relevant in the healthcare market and this is an area of huge growth.

TRP: What were the most significant developments in cloud services that we saw in 2014?

NH: The following developments:

  • Use of personal cloud services – technologies such as Office 365, Dropbox and Google Apps have all matured significantly with security and functionality, leading to users merging services across their personal and business life to gain a seamless experience. We are also seeing growing pressure from users demanding a consistent experience across all devices irrespective of the underlying hardware and operating system.
  • Automation and governance using software – emphasis has shifted from cloud as a set of end-user functions to a management and governance tool for various processes. Large global cloud providers are complementing large-scale compute capability with automation of platform delivery, providing architectural and commercial governance with increased agility through features based on customer demands. Developers are really benefitting from the agility that this brings as they are able to stay within the bounds of business governance limits but deploy the required resources for their project.
  • Cloud broker role – this role has been growing in importance and is vital moving forward, as it brings together on-premise cloud, public cloud, hybrid cloud and personal cloud. Enterprises need to work with cloud providers and vendors to manage this cloud of everything. We see the integration of personal cloud services with the enterprise cloud as the future for a seamless user experience and through cloud brokers, this process is flourishing.
  • Software-defined everything – the improvement in standards we've seen this year has had a dramatic effect on infrastructure deployment and configuration, interoperability between cloud providers and automation for infrastructure provisioning. Whilst many of these standards are currently open to some level of interpretation we are seeing efforts to rationalise and clearly define them. This will benefit consumers through greater consolidation, reduced cost and services being deployed much more easily.

TRP: Which sectors in particular are benefitting from cloud and these specific developments?

NH: The following sectors:

  • Manufacturing – this industry is benefitting from the increased use of personal cloud services and SaaS areas to enrich user experience and make it more uniform. This usually involves the use of tools such as Office 365 or Google Apps with a combination of enterprise tools like Microsoft SharePoint, MS CRM, and Lync.
  • Web/media businesses – many web organisations are evaluating the use of global cloud services for storing and manipulating their IP in the cloud.
  • Professional services – as digitisation in verticals such as insurance starts impacting the industry, firms are using cloud delivered technologies to increase customer self-service, accelerate mobile interaction with customers and to improve labour intensive back office processes. The result of this is higher levels of automation and reduced human input which can reduce the risk of non-compliance.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.